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COLUMBUS, Ohio Fresh off a fourth place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, several members of the Ohio State men’s track and field team will return to South Bend, Ind. for the second time this season to challenge the field at the Alex Wilson Invitational this Saturday at Loftus Sports Center. The Buckeyes will look to use the final indoor meet of the year as a “last chance” opportunity to qualify athletes for the NCAA Indoor Championships next weekend in College Station, Texas and as a springboard to the outdoor campaign.

The Big Ten champions in the 4x400m relay, Thomas Murdaugh, Brandon Woodard, Matt Comer and Stephen Robinson, will look for back-to-back titles this weekend after setting an NCAA provisional time of 3:08.73 Sunday with their triumph at the Big Ten indoor meet.  The four were named First Team All-Big Ten based on their performance.

Comer and Murdaugh will also compete individually for Ohio State after their second place finishes in the 200m and 400m, respectively.

Patrick Whalen and Matt DeChant are the other two Buckeye entrants at the invite; the duo will look to challenge a strong field in the shot put after finishing third and sixth at the indoor championships.

Ohio State will take a week off before returning to competition Mar. 20-21 at the Georgia Relays at the University of Georgia.

Whalen and DeChant will be first up for the Buckeyes in the shot put around 11:00 a.m. EST Saturday. For complete results, visit www.und.com.

Buckeyes No. 60 in Latest USTFCCCA Rankings
Ohio State moved up two places to No. 60 in this week’s United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings. The 4×400 relay team holds the squad’s highest ranking with the eighth fastest collegiate time in the country this year. Thomas Murdaugh is ranked No. 12 in the 400m dash and Matt DeChant No. 22 in the shot put.

Minnesota is the top ranked team in the Big Ten at No. 17. Two other conference teams secured Top 30 rankings in the poll, No. 27 Michigan and Michigan State at No. 29.

Comer a Finalist for Big Ten Sportsman of the Year
The senior from Portage, Mich. was nominated as a finalist for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Wednesday. The Big Ten Conference office honors an individual from each of its ten track and field teams with the coveted nomination. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. League officials will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year with the Sportsmanship Award. 

2009 Indoor Championships on the Big Ten Network
The Big Ten Network will air all the action from last weekend’s indoor championships this Saturday, Mar. 7 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Repeats are set to air Tuesday Mar. 10 at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday Mar. 15 at 4:00 p.m.

Last Time Out
Fueled by a victory in the 4x400m relay, the Ohio State men’s track and field team took fourth place Mar. 1 at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships with a score of 77.50, finishing a half point behind third place Penn State. Minnesota took home the title with 135 points.

The 4×400 team of Brandon Woodard, Matt Comer, Stephen Robinson and Thomas Murdaugh defended Ohio State’s 2008 victory in the same event with an NCAA provisional time of 3:08.73, the top time in the Big Ten on the year. Illinois, the team that held the previous conference best time, finished second, almost three seconds behind the Buckeyes.

Thomas Murdaugh, a freshman from Dublin, Ohio, placed second in the 400m dash finals in an NCAA provisional time of 46.67. Matt Comer took eighth with a time of 48.87.

Comer capped his final Big Ten indoor championship in style, finishing second in the 200m dash with an NCAA provisional and personal best time of 21.23 after taking eighth in the 400m and contributing to the Ohio State victory in the 4x400m.

The 600m dash saw a third place finish from Buckeye junior Brandon Woodard, who set a personal record with his run of 1:17.90. Daniel White, one of the top up-and-coming middle distance runners in the country, placed fourth in the finals of the 800m in 1:51.78.

In the field, Ohio State was led by Patrick Whalen; the senior took third in the finals of the shot put with a mark of 17.97m. Matt DeChant followed with a sixth place effort and also finished fifth in the weight throw with a career best toss of 19.41m.

Steve MacDonald, a freshman from North Olmsted, Ohio, shattered his previous career best performance in the finals of the long jump. His leap of 7.03m was just enough to squeak past another top Big Ten freshman, Indiana’s Olumide Olamigoke for fifth place.